This is my last post from South Carolina. Since the Afro American News is a weekly, the next publication is next Wednesday. The polls are giving Obama a 7-10 point lead, so it looks like he may win tomorrow--but we won't know for sure until the polls close.
Here's a transcript of an answer the Illinois senator gave to a black woman during a stop Wednesday in Rock Hill. She wanted to know what she could say to her 77-year-old father would doubted that an African American president would be able to govern because racism will hamper his effectiveness.
Obama’s response to a question which speaks from defeated Southern Black hopes of the past
By Monroe Anderson
AFRO Staff Writer
ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Rita Moore-Johnson asked the question that caught everybody’s attention. It was a question rooted in the darkest days of America’s history and years of Southern oppression.
Moore-Johnson, 45, a medical lab technician, had come to Rock Hill to hear presidential candidate Barack Obama speak at one of the many rallies here before Saturday’s Democratic primary.
Her father, she explained, is 77 years old. He is the grandson of a former slave.
He, like his father, and his father, has spent all his life in South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still flies outside the state capital.
Segregation, lynchings and the Ku Klux Klan are real memories for him, not just something out of a history book. He repeatedly has seen Black aspirations beaten down; he repeatedly has seen Black efforts met by irrational White resistance.
" I don't want to perpetuate this notion in our kids that there's a limit to what their dream is..."
And for those reasons, he is afraid to vote for Barack Obama.
So, during a question and answer session following Obama’s speech at Winthrop University, Moore-Johnson, an Obama supporter, explained to the candidate that her father "feels that a Black president will not be able to do what he needs to do in Washington to get change done.”
“Tell him this. First of all, people said I couldn't win the United States senate race. Illinois is only 12 percent African American. And everybody said, 'wow, this black guy with the funny name. People will not vote for him. We won by 20 percent in the primary and 30, 40 percent in the general election.
“Number one, we have shown that we can win. I am absolutely convinced that the American people, right now, they don't care if you are black, white, brown…green.
“What they care about is, are you going to help them. If I came here and I had polka dots and you were convinced that I was going to put more money in your pockets and help you pay for college and help keep America safe, you'd say
"Okay, I wish he didn't have polka dots, but I'll still vote for him."
“The thing I want you to tell him is this. This goes to what I said about hope earlier. What if Dr. King looked over 400,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial and said, ‘Y’all go home, this is too hard, we're not going to change people's attitudes’ What if John Kennedy looked up at the moon and said, ‘That's too hard. We can't go.’
“Part of the test of leadership is breaking through barriers. And most of the barriers are not barriers outside us, but barriers inside us, in our heads. We tell ourselves we can't do something. And part of what I want to do is to say "yes, we can" and I want to send that message to our children. I don't want to perpetuate this notion in our kids that there's a limit to what their dream is.
“Tell your father that he's got to be thinking of making sure he doesn’t pass that mindset on to his grandchildren and even their grandchildren. If they try, they may succeed. It's always possible that they won't succeed, but you definitely won't succeed if you don't try.”